Posted on Sep 9th 2011 01:40 am

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Hauschka & Hildur Guðnadóttir: Pan Tone

Pan Tone
Sonic Pieces 2011
06 Tracks. 42mins15secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

In early 2010, German pianist Hauschka and Icelandic experimental cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir were invited to perform together as part of Arctic Circle’s Bubbly Blue And Green festival, themed around water, which took place at King’s Place, London over the course of four days. For the occasion, the pair had concocted a series of pieces inspired by various Pantone shades of blue, from near-black to aquamarine, each evoking a particular colour of the ocean.

So truly individual are their respective work that the inspired pairing of Volker Bertelmann, a man with a penchant for purposely tempering with his piano with all manners of props to alter its sound, and Hildur Guðnadóttir, whose exploratory work takes the cello out of its usual remit to experiment with textures and loops, was always likely to deliver something totally unique. And unique this never-to-be-repeated performance was on more than one level. Bertelmann’s randomly distorted melodies and Guðnadóttir’s exquisite layered drones and loops combine to create a particularly haunting soundtrack, which is as nuanced and contrasted as the ocean they endeavour to portray. The random playfulness of the prepared piano contrasts greatly with the sombre tones of the cello, yet the music resulting of this unlikely collision is incredibly dramatic and poignant.

#283 opens with Bertelmann building up a theme, tainted by the bouncing of ping pong balls and the tarnished sounds of dulled strings, around which Guðnadóttir weaves delicate motifs and pulses. The cello becomes more prominent on #294 as Guðnadóttir layers monotone segments, but, as the piece progresses, she answers the rising momentum of the piano with swelling counterpoints.

The mood changes quite drastically on Black6. Announced by a slightly dissonant cello drone, the bleak call of Guðnadóttir’s cello is at first almost entirely solitary, Bertelmann only sprinkling minute texture over it, but as the drone evolves into a tormented sequence, he adds to the emotional fabric by carving a particularly vibrant theme. #304 continues on a similar sombre path, and here, the pair strip the music right back down to its most minimal state, Guðnadóttir weaving mournful tones whilst Bertelmann creates a glistening melody by  repetitively hitting the strings of his instrument with tiny mallets. While the pace remains slow and the tone fairly minimal, things lighten up again on #320. The cello occupies the bulk of the space, as layered drones and textured glissandos cross paths, while Bertelmann drops delicate touches throughout. The pair return to more animated grounds for the closing piece of this collection. Coolgrey1 is much more lively and colourful than its title suggest. Most of the piece is driven by rhythmic piano pulses as swirls of cello fly in from all sides, before the pair calm things down in the latter part of the piece until it fizzles out entirely.

The fruit of an extraordinary meeting of visionary artists, Pan Tone is a totally fascinating affair, its scope reaching way beyond their respective realm to create a truly magical moment. In turn gentle or agitated, sparkling or bleak, the music here is incredibly rich and evocative, and should be missed under no pretext.


Hauschka | Hildur Guðnadóttir | Sonic Pieces
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: DLD iTunes: DLD

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One Response to “HAUSCHKA & HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR: Pan Tone (Sonic Pieces)”

  1. THE 2011 REVIEW | themilkfactoryon 22 Dec 2011 at 1:05 pm

    […] & HILDUR GUÐNADÓTTIR Pan Tone Sonic […]